Ashevilleans not so tolerant of the differently clothed

Asheville is the kind of place where a guy can confidently step out on the streets wearing a loincloth, army boots and a live ferret on his head. Weirdness is a cottage industry here. The sophisticated and tolerant folks of Asheville celebrate eccentricity and diversity. Well, maybe not so much.

[On a] Friday afternoon, I made a rare trip into town to take in some of the studios in the River Arts district and to visit the downtown galleries. As I usually do, I put on my boots and bib overalls (Pointer brand overalls, proudly manufactured in Bristol, Va.). With my long hair and beard, [I may not be] a pretty sight, but it is what I look like – and this is, after all, Asheville.

Barely a minute after I got off of my bike in the River Arts district, a gentleman yells from a passing vehicle "Farmer Brown! Have you lost your pig?" Granted, dressed as I was, pig farming was a reasonable guess as to my occupation, but this certainly did not merit a public announcement. For the record, my last name is Greene, and I have not been involved in pig farming for 40 years or so.

Leaving the River Arts District, I made my way uptown. Just outside the Blue Spiral [Gallery], a young lady about 20 [years old] took a quick look at me, whipped around to her friend and loudly exclaimed, "Oh. My. God (unintelligible) turnip truck." I got the gist.

My final encounter, just outside of Gallery Minerva, was the most "in your face." I say this because the guy was literally in my face. While I talked on the phone to my wife, a gentleman in his mid 20s stopped in front of me, looked me in the eye and said, "You need to go back to Waynesville or wherever you came from."

"What was that all about?" my wife asked. I did not have an answer.

Did I just happen to meet three unusually rude people, or have I badly misinterpreted the Asheville dress code?

— David Greene
Arden

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77 thoughts on “Ashevilleans not so tolerant of the differently clothed

  1. shadmarsh

    too much hipster scum here. If I had my way they’d all be in zoos.

  2. dhalgren

    Funny, I got a similar reaction when I visited the downtown galleries wearing my tutu and cowboy boots. (probably should have shaved my legs)

  3. “Funny, I got a similar reaction when I visited the downtown galleries wearing my tutu and cowboy boots. (probably should have shaved my legs) “

    You have a soul mate who works at SunnyPoint Cafe. She always wears tutus. Or perhaps you know her and she inspired you????

  4. Asheville Dweller

    Good ol open minded Asheville, got to love their status quo mindset.

  5. LOKEL

    I guess some of our citizenry want us all to wear “Made In China” polyester crap from the Wal-Marts … many a native from the area grew up with family members who wore (and still do wear) overalls.

    Prior to the industrialization of the South our ancestors were primarily farmers of one sort or another.

    The fact that folks feel free to offer commentary on a strangers clothing is a bit disconcerting and to be honest right out of the 6th grade!

  6. John Hill

    Too many yankee transplants venting their cultural bigotry towards natives. And I do not like Chicagoans, or other northerners, calling me “hillbilly” or “redneck”. They can either be courteous and polite to natives,or go back to the northern hate-hole they crawled out of! Newcomers, be nice, or be gone!

  7. Piffy!

    Oh bother.

    MEthinks this be quite the teapot-size tempest.

    In fact, i dont think this actually happened. Being a poor farmer is all the rage in asheville. Now, if he has a brooks brothers suit on, i might believe it.

  8. David the bib overalls, boots, long hair and beard are not the problem. It sounds like you did not properly accessorize. You were going to town. Add a shiny bauble or two for heaven’s sake.

  9. Kriss

    In fact, i dont think this actually happened.
    That was my first thought as well. Not that I disagree with the writer about the celebration of “eccentricity and diversity” in Asheville as being pretty much a joke, especially among the oh-so-hip transplants that have moved here in recent years, started businesses, and immediately set up arbitrary dress codes to keep out certain people.

    But what he describes sounds more like junior high school behavior than something that could actually happen, that is, adults actually making such comments to a perfect stranger. If it did happen, it’s outrageous. But it’s pretty hard to believe.

  10. Ken Hanke

    go back to the northern hate-hole they crawled out of

    Yes, that’ll win a lot of northern converts to your “unbigoted” point of view.

  11. brebro

    I guess transplants are rude in person and we locals are polite in person, but save up our rudeness for online posting.

  12. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Of course it’s exaggerated, if not fabricated. And so is the Chicago Tribune article (“Asheville, home of hillbilly progressives”). This stuff sells.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/sc-trav-0824-asheville-20100824,0,7287039.story?page=1&utm_medium=feed&track=rss&utm;_campai

    Ostensibly the Chicago Tribune travel writer took a little trip down to our fair city and needed some good quotes to justify his hipster-hillbilly story focus and likely to help pay for his vacation. Notice that he quoted four transplanted “progressives” by name, age, and vocation, while his article wrapped up with fabricated quotes by local no-name “hillbillies” that undoubtedly did not exist.

    Ah, well, the flat-iron photo was good. I suppose a photo of heritage trail animals would have been too heavy on the hillbilly side of the equation.

  13. Jack Monteath

    go back to the northern hate-hole they crawled out of

    Yes, that’ll win a lot of northern converts to your “unbigoted” point of view.

    HUH? They are in OUR backyard. It’s not a stretch that the transplants respect the local culture.

  14. Kriss

    As has been pointed out, lots of people wear overalls around here. Lots of people have beards around here, or long hair – and we do in fact have lots of farmers around here. It’s nothing unusual. For strangers on the streets of Asheville to make such remarks just seems implausible, IMO. Perhaps Mr. Greene’s story was meant as a modern day allegory – pointing out that diversity and eccentricity in appearance in Asheville is fine as long as it conforms to a rather narrow arbitrary standard of what “diversity and eccentricity” is supposed to look like.

    Weirdness may be acceptable here, but non-conformity not so much.

  15. Ken Hanke

    For strangers on the streets of Asheville to make such remarks just seems implausible, IMO.

    Either that, or some part of the story is missing.

  16. hippieyuppie

    I won’t comment on whether the alleged incidents actually happened, but I will say that it’s not exactly comfortable in Asheville to go to a bar or even ride the bus after work if you happen to have a job that requires you to wear a suit or businessy skirt.

  17. brebro

    Here’s a true anecdote of my own:

    I was perusing the contents of a food aisle in the Ingles grocery store located in the extremely bucolic and unquestionably rural community of Etowah, NC one early spring. Suddenly, a bearded, rotund, good ole boy with overalls came boldly up to me and questioned whether I should be wearing as many layer of clothing as I had on.

    You see, he was of the mind that it was “not that cold” outside that day and for some reason he felt the need to point out his disappointment in my ability to dress according to his view of manly tolerance to outside temperatures. I was not sure how to respond to such an indirect accusation of being a weather wimp, but I quickly blurted out a defensive excuse that the weather was much colder when I left the house that morning than it is now.

    Maybe the bearded overall-wearer is just the recipient of some misdirected karmic retribution from that encounter. (Karma probably can’t tell hirsute hayseeds apart either.)

  18. shadmarsh

    I once walked around with a retarded boy on a chain who dressed himself in his own filth.

  19. John

    Hmmm… Have any of you disbelievers interacted with any 20-year-olds recently? While I concede the letter seems exaggerated and factually incomplete, the idea of a 20-something snooty, trust-fund, hipster type verbalizing their disapproval in the manner of a sixth grader within earshot of Mr. Greene sounds entirely plausible to me.

    I was born two counties away on the SC side and raised here. I’ve witnessed this sort of thing from transplants and locals many times over the course of my life. The idea that bigotry exists and there are sometimes exchanges doesn’t really surprise me.

    Oh, and I had the overdressed thing happen to myself as well, BreBo.

  20. LOLOLOL

    Don’t feel bad, at least you can understand what they’re saying.

  21. Ken Hanke

    HUH? They are in OUR backyard. It’s not a stretch that the transplants respect the local culture.

    Respect is a two way street. You have to give it to get it.

  22. David G.

    Thanks for the advice Christopher C. I’ll be looking for something to give the gallouses a little sparkle next time I come into town. What about beads for the beard? Too much? I’m just not good with this kind of thing.

  23. mclovin

    The fact of the matter is that many of the “alternative” or “hipster” people we keep referring to are nowhere near as open-minded as they would like to think they are. Whether you’re a hillbilly or a young guy (like myself) who happens to wear nice clothes and doesn’t have a bunch of metal hanging off your face or tattoos over half your body, chances are the service and treatment you’ll get from many establishments in downtown where the hipster crowd hangs out will be piss-poor. It’s happened to me SEVERAL times in the few months that I’ve lived here, and it’s really turned me off of the city. Not to say that hillbillys or rednecks are any more accepting of different kinds of people, but at least they don’t veil their hatred with a thin layer of WASP pretentiousness.

  24. Ervin Roberts

    If I move to Chicago, I expect to blend in with the culture there. For instance, I wouldn’t loudly proclaim a teenager looks like a “gangsta punk” for having tattoos and piercings everywhere with the baggy pants so low his underwear shows. I wouldn’t point to an anti-American protester and yell “he just fell off the communist truck”.

    Following that example, I don’t expect people who moved here from, say Chicago, to point and loudly say “hey he looks like a dumb redneck cracker dressed like a farmer”.

    For those who doubt this happened, I’ve heard northern transplants derisively put down local folks, whose families go back here generations. Yet these same transplants left the places they have helped ruin: Chicago, NYC, Florida, etc. And they expect us to look and act like the people where they came from? LOL, I would think they would appreciate the easy friendliness here in Asheville and let go of their regional ignorance and hostility.

  25. Well David since you asked, it is very opened minded of you, I think beads in the beard would be quite fetching, particularly if many of them are glass. Or a more simple look would be a single nice big dangly ear ring. Now be sure your boots are shined of course. Then add a really stylish hat that makes you feel good wearing it and a pair of killer shades.

    When you hit the galleries next time folks will be wondering who the big spender is. I’ll bet you get some free wine.

  26. Piffy!

    Just the other day I was in Charlotte, wearing a tutu and sports bra with my steel toed colks and these business men were all like ‘gaw, where’d HE learn to accessorize?’.

    And I was all like, ‘talk to the hand, playboy’.

  27. The Trolls Troll

    @mclovin: Are you referring to Broadways? I hate that place. Talk about a bunch of pretentious wanks. It also reeks of body odor and shame.

  28. Media Watcher

    Regarding the questions about the authenticity of the letter, doesn’t MountainX authenticate the letters it publishers, by checking addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc., of the writers? Wouldn’t that be part of the editorial process?

  29. Just Me

    I guess it is a good thing I’ve never been able to understand a single word I’ve had shouted at me from a passing car. People, it’s a city. People walk in it. Get over it.

  30. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ tompeck: “Don’t be Bashful, it’s Asheville.” Ye jist gotta love the ones who know how to pronounce Asheville properly.

    @ Media Watcher: Yes to all that, but the MtnX editorial process doesn’t authenticate for content.

    @ dhalgren, David G., caleb***love, Christopher C NC, Ken Hanke, brebro, et. al.: Oh, my, yes. Tutus, cowboy boots, sparkly thingies and shiny baubles, brand-name bib overalls, Brooks Brothers suits, beaded beards, piercings and tats, body odor, hillbillies, rednecks, transplants, progressives, hipsters, yankees, pretentious wanks, respect and/or lack thereof, cultural bigotry, locals, outsiders, art galleries, well-mannered and/or un-mannered, live ferrets, free wine, and even unshaved legs…..and more.

    See. This stuff sells. Ever’ time.

    (And aside to dhalgren: The only thing I miss about our old buddy Travelah-the-Mallett is counting on your wonderful responses to his homophobic and misogynistic pomposity, your fabulous retorts and zingers for which he could never come up with a good come-back. No pun intended.)

  31. Whether or not this letter is authentic or truthy, it most certainly is fodder for Brent Brown.

    Frankly I am surprised how many folks take this in the direction of us versus them, north vs south, local vs kama’aina. That is like saying bib overalls and boots are endemic to Appalachian and WNC local culture. David could have wandered in to any downtown from California to Maine, they have farms and farmers in those places to ya know, and gotten the same reaction.

    A fashion faux paux can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere in the world.

  32. Betty Cloer Wallace

    So what, exactly, was David’s “fashion faux paux”?

  33. Zanna

    Hey, my dad wears a long beard and coveralls around here every day. Have you considered putting badges (buttons) on the straps? Overall straps are almost as good as car bumpers for displaying witty sayings, political views, favorite bands etc. Just a small collection of badges would push your coveralls from “default redneck” to “intentionally ironic modern”. :)

  34. David G.

    Christopher C is certainly correct. The undiluted “Tom Joad” look just makes people everywhere want to sing “Old MCDonald”. I once caught a little “EE-I-EE-I-O” action in Santa Fe, NM. I didn’t wear my bibs on a recent trip to Seattle. (It makes TSA get all touchy-feely when the metal hooks set off their detectors.) Still, I’ll bet the sight of an Okie loose in Pioneer Square would have raised a few eyebrows.

    Let me just add that I love Asheville. I think the first two encounters on that fateful Friday were worth a chuckle, and that the third guy, bless him, was just nuts.

    See you downtown!

  35. David that is nice of you to say I was right. Sadly, the reason I might be some what right is because two months ago a good friend insisted on taking me to the store and buying clothes because I apparently did not know how to dress myself to go out in public.

  36. Betty Cloer Wallace

    It is really sad that a centuries-old authentic style of “farmer dress” (bib overalls) in this region is now being so discredited and so relegated to the derision of others (on this site) as to be called the “Tom Joad look” and–if it can get even worse–needful of shiny baubles attached to the gallisters so as to look “hipster” and meet some new AVL dress code.

    No, David and Christopher, you are not right.

  37. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Yes, derision sells. A flash in the pan.

    But history and authenticity persist.

  38. David G.

    Betty, I see that I have been both vain and careless. Tom Joad, as played by Henry Fonda, looked pretty dapper on the big screen. To be fair, my look is more like “Tom Joad in a straw hat and bifocals, several years older, not nearly so good looking, and in dire need of a shave and haircut.”

  39. Piffy!

    [b]Regarding the questions about the authenticity of the letter, doesn’t MountainX authenticate the letters it publishers, by checking addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc., of the writers? [/b]

    They can verify (sort of) that the person is indeed named what they say, and wrote the letter, by calling them and saying “Mr Green, did you write this letter?”.

    How could they possibly verify to story being told?

  40. Piffy!

    Betty, it didnt happen. No derision. It’s made up. It smells a lot like a transparent attempt at an anecdote trying to point out how unaccepting the ‘tolerant liberals’ are.

    And while i agree with the sentiment (we all know ALL people form cliques, and that tolerance is a far easier bumper sticker slogan than an actual practice), I know enough poor, downtown-hangin’ farmer-types to know that this has never happened to them ONCE.

    Not to mention the absolute absurdity to pretend that the three individuals who made-fun (fr the sake of argument) somehow represent a larger anti-farmer attire attitude in Asheville.

    Hell, being a farmer is freaking HIP! Go see how many young folks are slumming it up at some farm-stand at the next farmer’s market, with bare feet, banjers, and mesh hats. puhlease.

    Although i did have a hot minivan mom once hoot and holler at me when i had gum boots and shorts on one summer day. Although i dont think it was derision :-)

  41. Betty with all due respect your hyper sensitivity in this area is really a weak point. You are grasping at straws trying to turn this into some kind of disrespect specific to this region and local farmers.

    David where did you buy your Pointer brand overalls? I could really use a pair. After three years hard labor and very successful roadside vegetable gardening, I have the figure now for overalls only and could slow traffic down even more when they drive by looking at the local color. No shiny baubles needed.

    Yes Betty it’s true. My country vegetable garden has been known to stop tourist traffic.

  42. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Up until the1960s almost everyone around here (outside of town dwellers) farmed to feed families out of necessity. All men and boys wore overalls (called “overhalls”) and brimmed gray felt hats, even to church. Most never wore any other kind of clothing and were even buried in overalls and white shirts, which was considered to be “dressed up.” Old family photos and school photos were filled with overall-wearing men and boys, as common as blue jeans out west. (Women wore dresses, never jeans.)

    Today, hobby farming is somewhat common, but I know of no one anymore who actually depends upon farming to feed families out of necessity, and authentic overalls and felt hats are almost a thing of the past, an uncommon sight that does bring derision as referenced by several people above—unless the overalls are worn in a hipster manner, usually with a straw hat and other accoutrements, even athletic shoes. There is a difference, and it clearly shows, between authentic and tongue-in-cheek overall wearers, just as there is a difference between real farmers and hobby farmers.

    Old brands that men and boys used to wear regularly are Red Camel, Liberty, Lee, and sometimes Tom Cat. Hipster preference today includes Carhartt, Pointer, and Dickies.

    As for disrespect—Oakies, Arkies, Crackers, Hillbillies, Tarheels, etc., have always had more than their fair share of derision, and manner of dress is only a stereotypical part of it compared with, say, traditional western dress. Even the national country music scene growing out of Nashville embraced western dress instead of “local” Tennessee.

    By the way, the brimmed gray felt hats were not the poked-top Snuffy Smith hillbilly hats popularized by the media.

    Another common item of men’s clothing well into the 1960s were “Ritchie” woodsmen coats, red and black plaid wool coats made by Woolrich, which you rarely see anymore except on very old men. They were common among local loggers and were usually worn over bib overalls.

  43. Hank Kennesaw

    I have no doubt this happened because I have seen and heard it myself. Asheville has somehow gotten a reputation as some sort of hippie dippie counter-culture capital of the SE. So we have gotten these people from Philly, NYC, Bahston (my hat tip to Barry) and Chicago thinking that Asheville is all what they heard it is. But they find Asheville still has natives a plenty, and we do not look like the average yankee cool breeze from where they are from. So out comes the name calling at ridicule of Southern culture.

    New arrivals, nip the judgements in the bud and try to blend in with us all. Those of you who transplanted a few years ago have for the most part mellowed out in Asheville. You do that too. But if overalls and the such bother you too much, move back to Chy-town and celebrate the gangsta chic there in Obama’s utopia.

  44. David G.

    Christopher, the last place I saw Pointer Brand overalls for sale was Washburn Store in Bostic, NC. Maybe someone else knows a more local merchant that carries them. I ordered my last batch on line at: http://www.pointerbrand.com/.

    Pointer Brand is manufactured by L.C. King Manufacturing Co. up in Bristol. It is a fourth generation family owned company with a good product.

    Buy ’em really big. A loose fit gives you good ventalation in the summer and plenty of room for heavy underclothing in the winter. You can also gain or lose a few pounds without having to buy new clothes.

  45. “Up until the 1960s almost everyone around here (outside of town dwellers) farmed to feed families out of necessity. All men and boys wore overalls (called “overhalls”) and brimmed gray felt hats, even to church. ……………………
    ……were common among local loggers and were usually worn over bib overalls. “

    Thank you for that post Betty. I ALWAYS enjoy your insightful historical writings about earlier life here in WNC.

  46. Betty Cloer Wallace

    In hindsight, we know now that the small farmer way of life changed rapidly, including clothing fashions, when transportation became better and goods could be transported faster and more easily, along with a decrease in local logging and sawmilling. We no longer had to depend on what we could produce in our own communities.

    This change resulted from a combination of rural electrification followed by telephones and televisions, federal war-on-poverty programs, consolidation of schools and post offices, and North Carolina’s good-roads programs that “got us out of the mud” by paving the secondary roads.

    Also, better transportation meant we could now ship out our corn through the Farmers Federation—instead of having to turn it into moonshine first—and the importation of assorted cattle feed (soybean meal, etc.) meant we started fencing in our cattle and hogs and keeping them closer to home.

    Most of this was good and made our lives less hard, but in the process we lost the identity of individual small communities, and the neighborliness.

  47. “Most of this was good and made our lives less hard, but in the process we lost the identity of individual small communities, and the neighborliness. “

    Maybe good, but very destabilizing. Looking back at my own ancestors and what transpired after they left the pastoral lands of Liberty, SC. (where they had settled 200 years before), they have had a hard time making the adjustments of the past century. Many seemed caught between the rural life and 100 years of progress….and in a constant state of consternation over it.

  48. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Davyne, have you read The Dollmaker by Harriette S. Arnow? It beautifully portrays the angst of rural mountain people migrating to the cities during wartime, although the dialect is hard to read.

    Jane Fonda brought it to the big screen, now an old Turner Classic movie, and she considers it among her best work. Here’s a snippet from the movie (I don’t know how to embed these things):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5G29Jh9Mos

    Fonda’s “accent” is not quite authentic, but a good try, and I love the movie and book.

  49. Jonathan Barnard

    Betty, I’m pretty clueless about fashion (just ask my teenage daughters) but I had previously thought that Carhartt was a brand preferred by people in the building trades (rather than hipsters).

  50. Thanks for the link! Ordered the book from Amazon, but will check out the movie too. Not available from Netflix.
    Will be interesting.

    Have spent a good amount of time pondering about the upheaval from the centuries of agrarian to industrial, and how it affects folks.

    My great grandfather was first generation off the farm and traveled around SC repairing textile mill machinery, and my Grandmother was in that generation where women got jobs and had their own money.

  51. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Here’s some real authenticity for you:

    http://www.sonofthesouth.net/slavery/photographs/old-slave-overalls.htm

    I ran across this photograph while trying to find out if anyone still sells “Tom Cat” overalls. Notice that the man’s top shirt button is buttoned. That was part of the old “style”–but for reasons of practicality, not for fashion.

    I’m still looking for Tom Cat “overhalls” as a present for my pseudo-yuppie-hipster son.

  52. I just came back from an organic vegetable production workshop at the new Mountain Organic Research Unit at the Haywood County extension office. In the chit chat I heard there were small organic farmers from Haywood, Buncombe, Jackson and Macon counties. With at least a hundred people in attendance there were doubtless other mountain counties represented.

    Not a single solitary soul was dressed in overhalls. Yes Betty things have changed.

    Perhaps David’s choice of attire could spark the return of an old fashion, give it new life and new respect. Now that he has pointed me in the right direction, I’ll be buying some to wear.

  53. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @Christopher C of NC: Not a single solitary soul was dressed in overhalls. Yes Betty things have changed.

    Yes, Christopher C of NC, things have changed, big time, but be aware that there is a local native subculture in your referenced counties that would not likely be present at “an organic vegetable production workshop at the new Mountain Organic Research Unit at the Haywood County extension office.”

    Most natives from those counties, in fact, would have no need to be there since their families have been farming organically here for a couple of centuries already, and some wouldn’t be caught dead at such a workshop, just on principle. I suggest you seek them out.

  54. Piffy!

    [b]I have no doubt this happened because I have seen and heard it myself.[/b]

    No one believes you are cares what you have to say, cullen/willard.

  55. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ Christopher C NC: I guess that handful of 80 year olds and a sizeable 60 plus crowd started farming late in life after moving here from up north.

    Regarding age, most likely. That’s the age range of the audience majority who usually attend such government-sponsored events around here–those who enjoy our low property taxes and freebie cultural events. It’s better than shuffleboard city.

    As for those “moving here from up north”? Not entirely. There are a lot of snowbirds here, escapees from down south, westerners, lowlanders, and across-the-ponders, too, as well as people who just want to find a bit of respite from the hectic world “from away” or who are avoiding some kind of criminal prosecution elsewhere.

    Our mountain fastnesses are generally a safe haven for all.

  56. Betty the presumptuousness of you speaking for the entire local culture at an event like this is truly astounding. It is like you are on hair trigger alert to defend a romanticized version of a culture that you admit changed drastically by the 60’s due to modernization.

    “Most natives from those counties, in fact, would have no need to be there since their families have been farming organically here for a couple of centuries already.” This is a total load of herbicide laced manure. I drive by these farms all the time. Fence rows and field edges don’t turn brown organically. Spray trucks are not parked in sheds and driving through fields for the ambiance. Hay fields are not weed free from manual grubbing. Farmers don’t pack the pesticide applicator licensing classes I take because they are organic farmers. Please don’t tell me tobacco is now or was farmed organically in your lifetime. Farming like clothes changed with modernization in these hills.

    “some wouldn’t be caught dead at such a workshop, just on principle.” Some? Is that the entire local farming culture you speak for. What an absolute insult to the Cooperative Extension Service you promote with this line of thinking. Their sole purpose is to make agriculture a viable economic activity for local farmers so that they may keep their land and their way of life and they have been doing this work for decades now. I suppose the new young superintendent of the Haywood research station from a strong local farming family is completely out of touch with the needs of local farmers. All those other agents, mostly quite young, from NCSU certainly can’t be local kids graduated from a NC university.

    The other half of the crowd at this workshop was young. What you want us all to believe is that the children and grandchildren of this rural subculture you are so ready to defend is completely stuck in an era long gone and not a single one of those young people could be local.

    Who is it really that has a jaundiced view of the local culture?

  57. brebro

    I blame the television show, “Hee-Haw” in general and Junior Samples in particular.

  58. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ Christoper C of NC regarding the Cooperative Extension Service:

    “Their sole purpose is to make agriculture a viable economic activity for local farmers so that they may keep their land and their way of life and they have been doing this work for decades now.”

    Really? Ask the CES to name one farm anywhere in WNC for which they can take credit for making agriculture a viable economic activity for the farmer so that he/she can keep their land and their way of life.

  59. Wow! I guess all that research done by universities and big agribusiness firms in genetics, agronomy, soil science, plant pathology, pesticides, herbicides, greenhouse production, marketing and on and on and on never made it to or was never used in any way by the local farmers. Whether or not it has all been beneficial in the long term is now open for debate, that is true, but you can not deny the economic relationship between the two.

    And you want us to believe that all local farmers are organic and have been for a couple of centuries.

    You are way out on a limb here Betty.

    http://www.themountaineer.com/article/going-organic-easier-you-think

  60. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Christopher, there used to be commercial farms and family farms in every valley in this region, and pastures up and down every hillside, now replaced by housing developments. Every county you named had dozens of dairies that supplied raw milk to now-defunct processors in Asheville that returned the milk to the counties, and schools had policies to repurchase the milk by percentages according to the amount the county produced.

    Chicken farms and tobacco allotments were numerous, but most are gone now, after being replaced for a while by tomatoes and cabbage, which also largely fell by the wayside. But more importantly, almost every family lived and worked small holdings, and those are almost all gone now. Most of those family farms were primarily organic (never completely) because each farm included the full range of mutually beneficial animals and vegetation, and children were numerous enough to work the farms.

    What you see now are only remnants of a once-thriving farm economy now replaced by hobby farmers with niche interests whose families would starve without outside jobs to support their farms. Economically viable they are not.

    I do know what NCSU and their CES programs do and do not provide to farmers, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find even one small farm in all of WNC for which they have made the great difference you have stated and which their literature states.

    My son, too, is a graduate of NCSU with Master’s degrees in Environmental Engineering and Civil Engineering. We take our way of life very seriously and do our best to live in harmony with the environment. Always have. Always will. We did not fall off a turnip truck; nor are we “stuck in an era long gone” as you so charge; nor do we have “a jaundiced view of the local culture” as you see it. Having lived here for many generations, we have a realistic appreciation of the history of this region, where it has come from and where it is headed. It is not rocket science. It is a changing way of life, quite observable over the decades.

    We still do not use herbicides or pesticides on anything except for minimal glyphosate on multiflora roses and privet that we cannot dig out mechanically, although we have to double up on everything we plant in order to get a harvest—sharing with the wildlife since we share a habitat.

    I do appreciate your knowledge and enthusiasm for landscaping, and I follow your really interesting “Outside Clyde” blog every week. I wish I could do one as well. But I also wish you would not jump to so many erroneous assumptions about the “local culture” and local farm economy. You do not know any more about our heritage here than we know about your Florida-Hawaii heritage, but we can learn from each other.

  61. Kriss

    Getting back to WNC fashion/fad/stereotypes, in doing a little research on the subject, I discovered this interesting article, a senior thesis written by a UNCA student last year.

    http://toto.lib.unca.edu/sr_papers/history_sr/srhistory_2009/ball_fainn.pdf

    This is a well researched history of Asheville’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, including Shindig on the Green, and in particular relates to Bascom Lamar Lunford’s struggles to address and deal with the issue of authentic versus stereotypical appearances and attire of musicians and other performers at the festivals.

    So what is real and what is phony in the perceived image of Southern Appalachian culture and attire has apparently been a concern for a long time, even going back to Cecil Sharp’s visits in the very early part of the 20th century.

    Personally, I think everybody – whether they give much thought to it or not – tries to send a message to the world about who they are by how they dress. The problem is that the message sent may not be the same message received by others. There is simply no way to please everybody. So I think if Mr. Greene or anyone else wants to wear bib overalls and feels good about it and feels like that’s who he is, he or she should do it and not worry about what some ignorant snob passer-by thinks or says. How we are dressed does no harm whatsoever to anyone else, so it’s sometimes difficult to understand why a few people occasionally seem so compelled to try to control or comment on what others around them may choose to wear or not wear.

  62. I find this story to be either made up (like previously said) or freaking insane. If it’s true, some folks need to go back to basics. The basics your parents taught you when you were a kid. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it. It’s not that complicated people.

  63. David G.

    To clear up any potential cronological jumbling. My previous post, “Amen”, was in response to Kriss at 8:14 AM.

    And Betty, that’s “Amen” with a long a.

  64. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ Shannon, you say: “If it’s true, some folks need to go back to basics. The basics your parents taught you when you were a kid. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it. It’s not that complicated people.”

    Well, Shannon, perhaps it is that complicated. Especially lately, for many people.

    According to the Vatican and the Southern Baptist Association, it is, as you say, not that complicated.. Don’t tell, they say. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Don’t tell, they say.

    Don’t say what? Just keep silent?

    Again @ Shannon (just to be sure we understand you): “The basics your parents taught you when you were a kid.” Don’t tell. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it.” Don’t tell.

    Don’t tell, ye say, Shannon? Don’t tell what? Don’t say what? Remain silent? Remain nicely silent?

    Tell us why.

  65. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Kriss, thanks for your link to the paper. We owe Lunsford a debt of gratitude for his musical legacy, and the researcher, too, for his excellent work.

    Shannon, Kriss, and David G….. about dress and other such personal matters, I do agree with you. I do think it best to remain silent if you can’t say something nice. At least one should not be rude and unmannerly except perhaps in self defense.

    When I made the comment above about the Vatican and the Southern Baptist Association, I got distracted and hit the send button by mistake before I edited it. Sorry. I had just been reading an article about so many abused children remaining silent because of the religious hierarchy making them think they must not tell of their abuse.

    Parents have a tough job teaching their children how to separate simple good manners and respect from situations in which they SHOULD speak up and tell of not-so-nice things….. but I’m getting off topic again for this thread.

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